When New Daddies Get Stressed by Brian Dembowczyk

Dad's Turn
source: abennett96

Here are three common causes of stress for new fathers and tips for handling each one.

Sleep deprivation

No one gets much sleep with a newborn in the house. Without the rest you need, you will find yourself running on fumes and easily prone to being stressed and irritable. Be creative to find time for you and your wife to rest. Consider taking turns during nighttime feedings (if your wife is nursing, she can pump milk into a bottle for one of the late night feedings), allowing one of you to get at least a few hours of sleep. Take naps, or at least rest, when your baby is sleeping during the day.

A crying baby

This is perhaps the greatest cause of stress for fathers. Not only can a newborn’s cry be draining, men tend to be problem-solvers and fixers and sometimes it is quite difficult to soothe a crying baby. Here are six tips for soothing your crying baby.

  1. Swaddle her. Newborns feel secure when they are bundled up securely.
  2. Calmly and gently shhhh her. Babies like repetitive sounds, plus it makes you feel better to say it.
  3. Gently rock her. Try swaying back and forth to create motion.
  4. Change the way you are holding her.
  5. Give her a pacifier.
  6. If all else fails and you feel your blood pressure rising, walk away and pray. Crying never hurt a baby.

A crowded schedule

Life instantly gets hectic with a baby in the home which often leads to stress. Learn the art of prioritizing and clear as much off your calendar as possible. Allow the house to be a little messier than usual. Don’t worry about mowing the lawn as frequently. Prepare simpler meals. Forgo your hobby for a little while. Don’t make any commitments or appointments unless absolutely necessary.

What suggestions do you have for dads with newborns?

Christmas Ramblings

99_MommyandJack2a.jpgLast Christmas season was wonderful and easy for my new little family.  Jason and I were still basking in the glow of being new parents. We were excited for extended family members to meet Jack. Jack was still young enough that planning holiday festivities around his schedule was no problem at all! But looking to this year … I was afraid things would be very different.

To be honest, I was worried this Christmas was going to be stressful. I was dreading putting out the Christmas decorations with a toddler underfoot, I was sure finding time to Christmas shop was going to be next to impossible, and I was concerned that all of the holiday festivities would throw Jack’s schedule completely for a loop! (I can see my husband now … shaking his head at my tendency to worry too much.)

The reality is … this Christmas season has been great so far! We put up the Christmas decorations after Jack went to bed one night! We kept things simple this year and didn’t go overboard. In fact, we put up the Christmas tree without any ornaments so that Jack could enjoy and explore it without us having to constantly monitor which ornaments he was handling. (Did I mention the tree is pre-lit? All we had to do was fluff it and plug it in! That’s my kind of decorating!)

While the busy part of the month hasn’t hit yet, I shouldn’t worry too much about planning around Jack’s schedule for Christmas activities. He’s very laid-back and has never had a problem being flexible!

And on the shopping front, we are almost done, and it has been fun to shop with Jack! We only have a few more gifts to buy for family. Then we can turn our attention to shopping for Jack … who surprisingly has become the hardest to shop for!

Last year Jack was too little to care what anybody got for him so we gave him practical things like bibs, blankets, clothes, and other essentials. But this year, there is a new pressure to get not only toys he will be excited about but also toys that are durable and will grow with him over the years. We only want to get him a few presents, so narrowing it down has been more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m sure all of the pondering will be well worth it though when Jack opens his presents on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to experience Christmas through his eyes!!

Are you looking for gift ideas that are memorable, flexible, and durable? Be sure not to miss the 2009 Christmas Gift Guide in the December 2009 issue of ParentLife.

Taking the Stress Out of School

Is your preteen tired of school? Is she feeling the pressure of completing school work, earning good grades, and fitting in with her peers? Help her take the stress out of school.

  1. 28_homework.jpgEncourage excellence but emphasize to your preteen that she does not base her self-worth on grades. There is a balance here. Push her to do her best but assure that her value is grounded in being a child of God. 
  2. Ensure that your preteen has enough time to study and complete homework. Procrastinating or rushing through assignments will catch up to your
    preteen sooner or later. Be proactive in this area. Know what
    assignments are coming up and help your preteen set aside enough time
    to get all of them done.
  3. Celebrate your preteen’s success. Be eager and quick to point out when your preteen does well. When she earns a good grade, praise her! When she writes a paper, ask to read it and give her positive feedback. If the only time you talk about school is when you are critical, your preteen most likely will worry more.

For more help on teaching your preteen to see herself through God’s eyes, be sure to check out ParentLife’s 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt article “Self-Identity” in the March 2009 issue.

What school struggles is your preteen facing? Do you have
stress-reducing suggestions to share with other parents?  Leave a comment and
let us know.

Schedule Obsession

12_stressed_mother.jpgI like to consider myself to be a laidback person, but those closest to me know I’m not. However, I’ve shocked myself (and many of those around me) by being a more relaxed mom than I thought I could ever be. I’d say my parenting style is fairly relaxed … except when it comes to one topic in particular — schedules.

A few months into Jack’s life, I become obsessed with his daily schedule. I wanted everything to be exactly the same every single day. I felt he should eat and sleep at the same times every day. It’s not that I wanted to set the schedule and control every minute of his life. I was fine with letting him set the schedule. But I couldn’t understand it when he didn’t fall into a recognizable pattern every day. I just assumed that I must be doing something wrong.

I’ve read it a million times, but for some reason, it did not sink in — Every baby is different. Some babies just don’t fall into a perfect pattern like others.

After a couple of exhausting months of worrying, I finally gave up. I decided to completely follow Jack’s lead on a day-by-day basis. I can’t tell you what a difference it made in both Jack and me! After letting go, I felt as if a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I was able to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying every moment with Jack.

And would you believe, not long after I quit obsessing, Jack fell into a basic pattern. It’s not exactly the same every day, but it’s close. It would seem that my unnecessary anxiety was affecting his behavior.

What about you? Does your young child follow a schedule every day or is every day different? Are there things you find yourself worrying about unnecessarily?